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Scripps Research Names Ronald L. Davis as Founding Chair of New Neuroscience Department

JUPITER, FL, October 12, 2009 – The Scripps Research Institute has named Ronald L. Davis, Ph.D., formerly the R.P. Doherty-Welch Professor of Science at Baylor College of Medicine, as the founding chair of the Department of Neuroscience on the Scripps Florida campus.

Davis is best known for his work in the areas of memory and learning, particularly on the molecular and cellular basis of memory formation and related brain disorders.

"It gives me great pleasure to announce Ron Davis's appointment," said Gerald Joyce, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the faculty at Scripps Research. "Ron will be a wonderful addition to our academic community and to the institute."

Davis, who is 57 years old, began the new position last month.

"I'm tremendously excited to be joining the Scripps Research faculty and to be building a new neuroscience department on the Scripps Florida campus," Davis said. "There are so many great scientists and such enthusiasm at Scripps Florida. I'm proud to be associated with it."

While at Baylor College of Medicine, Davis and his colleagues used a variety of techniques and technologies to understand learning, memory, and other types of behavior in Drosophila (the common fruit fly) and other animal models. More recently, the research team extended those studies to humans by focusing on the genetics of mood disorders.

"Learning and memory have been my passion for many years," Davis said, "deciphering the molecular basis of how animals learn and then applying that knowledge to humans. There's so much we have yet to uncover about the underlying mechanisms. What we're trying to do is gain a fundamental understanding of the molecular architecture of learning and memory mechanisms, apply that information to understand the susceptibility factors for psychiatric and neurological diseases, and then use that to develop potential treatments."

The new department will play an important role in the Program in Neurosciences, a recently created umbrella group that encompasses faculty in a number of Scripps Research departments, including the Molecular and Integrative Neurosciences Department (MIND), the Department of Neurobiology, and the Committee on the Neurobiology of Addictive Disorders (CNAD) on the La Jolla, California campus, and now the Department of Neuroscience on the Jupiter, Florida campus, as well as other investigators at Scripps Research with an interest in the field.

The program, which was created to foster a broad exchange of scientific ideas, is also designed to promote research collaborations, attract new sources of government and private funding, and facilitate the recruitment of new faculty to both campuses.

This fits in well with Davis's own research philosophy—that solving complex problems such as how memories are formed requires a multi-level, interdisciplinary approach. During his years at Baylor College of Medicine, this approach led to an affiliation with eight different departments, centers, and other programs at the Houston-based medical school, he said.

At Scripps Florida, Davis expects to hire about 10 new faculty members over the next several years, focusing on four main areas: learning and memory; diseases of learning and memory; sleep; and the mechanisms of anesthetics.

About The Scripps Research Institute

The Scripps Research Institute is one of the world's largest independent, non-profit biomedical research organizations, at the forefront of basic biomedical science that seeks to comprehend the most fundamental processes of life. Scripps Research is internationally recognized for its discoveries in immunology, molecular and cellular biology, chemistry, neurosciences, autoimmune, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases, and synthetic vaccine development. Established in its current configuration in 1961, it employs approximately 3,000 scientists, postdoctoral fellows, scientific and other technicians, doctoral degree graduate students, and administrative and technical support personnel. Scripps Research is headquartered in La Jolla, California with a second campus located in Jupiter, Florida. Research at Scripps Florida focuses on basic biomedical science, drug discovery, and technology development.


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